Invada Records / Lakeshore Records
DL Available now. Physical TBA
Electronic composer / producer Ben Frost scores the latest hit series from Netflix ‘Dark’. Simon Tucker finds an artist walking the thin line between terror and beauty.
It is about a third of the way into Apokalypse when it suddenly dawns on you. You get that realisation that what you are listening to is an important work. Not important in chart position or hype. Important in the way that what you are hearing is an artist you have admired for a long time break past what they have done before and reach a new peak. This is a new artistic high for Frost and what makes it so is his perfect balancing act beauty beauty and terror, heaven and hell.
Dark is about the disappearance of two children in a small town and how that event causes secrets and sins to be brought up to the surface. If you have not seen the program do not worry for Frost’s score perfectly paints the pictures for you. Just listen to Ich Kann Die Vergangenheit Ändern. The way the distorted slam of techno beats smash all around you gets your heart beating faster yet throughout the piece you get these tidal strings that swell and dip creating a lurching feeling and a sense of perpetual motion. It is utterly terrifying yet so gloriously cathartic that even though part of you is relieved when its grip loosens and the piece ends you want to get back to the front of the cue and ride again. What a wonderful magic trick this is.
Looking for similarities with this score and other touchstones you could quote artists like Coil and Pendereki yet what this shares with these is not a stylistic similarity but more a bravery and that intelligence to allow the rawness in around the edges, not cleaning things up too much. Then there is Scott Walker whose spirit seems to hover over the album again guiding Frost’s hand and directing him in the art of balancing the spiritual with the unbearable.
Throughout Dark: Cycle 1 Ben Frost also plays a wonderful game of sleight of hand. He can build up a suspense within your headspace by allowing gaps for you to fill in your own darkest thoughts. One of the best examples of this is Tick Tack, Tick Tack which whilst it has plenty of moments where instrumentation emerges briefly it is the hanging quite periods that haunt you as they act like someone has suddenly turned off the lights in the room and what you thought in the light was a regular chair suddenly becomes a far more insidious creature.
Listening to Ben Frost’s score feels more like you are stepping into the shoes of Hellraiser’s Frank and opening a box that unleashes terror and a Gothic erotica all at the same time. It is a work that is profoundly beautiful, captivating and thrillingly scary. Frost taps straight into that base human emotion of thrill seeking where you know what you are about to do goes against all the warning signs your head and your body are telling you yet you still push on knowing that at the end of it you will feel a sense of euphoria that you could never achieve just by playing life straight. There is no more to say except get this album got for the journey is really worth the ticket price…and all the chills along the way.